San Diego Humane Society Provides Update Regarding the “Flying Tortoise”
by San Diego Humane Society
06:21 PM, Tuesday, October 16
SAN DIEGO — There is a great ending to the story of the ‘Flying Tortoise,’ now named Thomas. Thomas has been adopted by an educational program instructor, Alicia Berg, with the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation, and will now provide educational outreach to teach children about the proper treatment and care of animals.

On Sunday, August 19th the San Diego Humane Society received a call from the Oceanside Police Department that a turtle had been duct taped to several balloons and was stuck in a tree. The San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement department responded to the call and safely removed the tortoise. The Humane Society has cared for him ever since while the investigation to find the person(s) responsible has been underway.

“This is one of the cruelest pranks we’ve seen. Fortunately, this animal was physically unharmed in this instance,” said Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA. “But now, what was a cruel prank is a very inspiring story. Thomas can now be a representative of animal cruelty to hopefully prevent something like this ever happening again. Preventing animal cruelty is our mission, so seeing a happy ending for Thomas is a huge success.”  

“We’ve collected substantial evidence to find the perpetrator and are still following several leads,” said Randall Lawrence, Director of Humane Law Enforcement at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.  “We look into every claim and take these cases very seriously.  If anyone has any information about this case, or any other instance of animal cruelty or neglect in the San Diego area, please call us at (619) 243-3466.”

Weitzman continues, “We have Humane Officers in the field seven days a week investigating and pursuing cases of animal cruelty and neglect, which is one of the primary aspects of our mission. In just the past year, 14 cruelty cases have resulted in prosecution, and thousands more have been investigated.”

In partnership with the City of San Diego, the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation works to preserve and protect the natural environment of Mission Trails Regional Park and to provide and promote educational and recreational opportunities. Thomas will visit many classrooms throughout San Diego County through a program funded by SDG&E’s Environmental Champions Award grants to teach children about animal cruelty and neglect, as well as the importance of conservation and preserving the environment.

About the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA: Serving San Diego County since 1880, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s scope of social responsibility goes beyond adopting animals.  The Humane Society offers San Diegans a wide range of programs and services that strengthen the human-animal bond, prevent cruelty/neglect, provide medical care and educate the community on the humane treatment of animals.

As one of San Diego’s oldest nonprofit organizations, the Humane Society has campuses in both San Diego and Oceanside and is supported solely through contributions, grants, bequests, investments, proceeds from the Muttique retail store, and small fees for services.  For more information or to see current animals available for adoption, please visit

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